by Daire Brunicardi published 2012.

Brunicardi: This name has now been in the Cork area for three generations. Daire came to the Island as a boy when his father, an army officer, transferred to the navy when their naval school was established. The navy is in the blood of the Brunicardis. His father Niall was the first Irish Naval Officer seconded for United Nations duties. Daire started life as a Merchant Navy Officer but was attracted into the Navy and his son Mike is now a Naval Lieutenant based at Haulbowline.

Niall used to do the readings at the open-air masses held on Saturday evenings at the Clonee caravan site in Co. Waterford where he holidayed for many years. He also compered a talent show in the local bar, now the Clonee Hotel. So popular was this event that people were bussed in from many miles away (nothing to do with caravanning). Niall gave an appreciation of every act and my son and daughter surprised us when they did a rendition of the “bear hunt”, which my wife and I had never heard (straight from Gelnalbyn summer camp). We met Niall and his wife many times. We did a tour of the National Maritime College (NMCI) in 2011 and met Mike. I did not meet Daire until earlier this year at a lecture in the NMCI, which is a great collaboration between the Merchant Navy and the Navy to train future seafarers.

Haulbowline – The Naval Base and Ships of Cork Harbour:

I have read Daire’s book on Haulbowline with great interest. When he says it took many years to write it is evident from his many sources that he wanted this history to be as complete as possible, brought to life by many photographs which illustrate a special place. I can commend this book as a great story, as a history and as an engrossing read which will give you a sense of the gravitational pull of Cork Harbour and Haulbowline in particular.

The chapters cover many aspects of how the base developed amid rivalry in the first instance from Kinsale but Kinsale could not offer the depth needed for vessels which were growing in size, although they held on to the stores for quite a while.

Haulbowline developed in many stages and was at its greatest during WW1 when all its many facilities were utilised. It had at that stage managed to develop it’s dry-dock which was a great boon to augment facilities at other locations around the British Isles. You can picture the convicts walking to and from the site works on a specially constructed causeway from nearby Spike Island.

The many attempts at forming an Irish navy are also detailed and now it has taken its place in World navies. Though small it holds its own in fishery protection, defence roles and as a resource during SAR and pollution incidents for the Irish Coast Guard, among other functions

There is great detail of the first ship the Muirchu inherited from the British. He moves on to the MTBs ordered for duty during WWII and the Corvettes Cliona, Maev and Macha who gave stalwart service and are immortalised in song by the “Dubliners”. Newer ships were bought from the British navy and a building program was commenced which saw the first Irish built vessels and this programme continues to this day. Since the publication of the book it is good to see that two new ships are now near completion.

Daire has taken great pains to fill the pages with incidents, characters and life so that the mere facts grow in our minds. This is a thoroughly good read.

It is great to have such books that build up the story of our maritime heritage.


Joe Ryan – member of the Maritime Institute


The SS Shamrock - a story from the Emergency - ahem - I mean World War Two - and every word is true - click here for the SS Shamrock story